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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to James Dusautoy, 12 February 1813

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Keswick, Feb. 12. 1813.
“My dear Sir,

“Your talents will do every thing for you in time, but nothing in the way you wish for some years to come. The best road to the bar is through the university, where honours of every kind will be within your reach. With proper conduct you would obtain a fellowship by the time you were one or two and twenty, and this would enable you to establish yourself in one profession or another, at your own choice.

“This course is as desirable for your intellectual as for your worldly advancement. Your mind would then have time and opportunity to ripen, and bring forth its fruits in due season. God forbid that they should either be forced or blighted! A young man cannot support himself by literary exertions, however great his talents and his industry. Woe be to the youthful poet who sets out upon his pilgrimage to the temple of fame with nothing but hope for his viaticum! There is the Slough of Despond, and the Hill of Difficulty, and the Valley of the Shadow of Death upon the way!

“To be called to the bar you must be five years a member of one of the inns of court; but if you have a university degree, three will suffice. Men who during this course look to their talents for support usually write for newspapers or reviews: the former is destructively laborious, and sends many poor fel-
lows prematurely to the grave: for the latter branch of employment there are always too many applicants. I began it at the age of four and twenty, which was long before I was fit for it.

“The stage, indeed, is a lottery where there is more chance of a prize: but there is an evil attending success in that direction which I can distinctly see, though you perhaps may not be persuaded of it. The young man who produces a successful play is usually the dupe of his own success: and being satisfied with producing an immediate and ephemeral effect, looks for nothing beyond it. You must aim at something more. I think your path is plain. Success at the university is not exclusively a thing of chance or favour; you are certain of it if you deserve it.

“Then you have considered this with your friends, tell me the result, and rest assured that my endeavours to forward your wishes in this, or in any other course which you may think proper to pursue, shall be given with as much sincerity as this advice; meantime read Greek, and write as many verses as you please. By shooting at a high mark you will gain strength of arm, and precision of aim will come in its proper season.

Ever yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”